Jeremy Lin’s sudden stardom has also put the spotlight on how Asian Americans are viewed in the U.S.:
Not since Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has there been so much national discussion about the appropriateness of discussing race. The 2008 election set the groundwork for an aggressive sort of colorblindness — as long as you voted for Barack and/or can celebrate, say, Jackie Robinson, you now have the right to flag down anything that might shake us from our post-racial dream. Statements like “I see everybody equally, therefore everyone should just talk about him as a basketball player” and accusations of “playing the race card” have become even more ubiquitous. And although the former signals a nice sentiment, it also provides convenient cover for those of us who benefit most from the status quo, regardless of race. Yes, Jeremy Lin became Linsanity because he has been playing at a level that has recalibrated expectations of any obscure player. And yes, there’s nothing more tiresome than a long-winded meditation on a basketball player, especially if he’s clearly been hijacked to promote some other agenda. But to strip Jeremy Lin of his status as the Great Yellow Hope not only seems dishonest and lazy, it also deprives the community he represents — willfully or not — of the unabashed joy of seeing one of its own succeed in the most improbable arena.